The Vaselines, ‘V for Vaselines’ – Album Review
From the time they got together as a band -- and couple -- in the late '80s, the Vaselines' Eugene Kelly and Francess McKee have been through a lot. They released their first album, 'Dum Dum,' and subsequently broke up the same week ... only to reunite a few years later.
They've taken a number of breaks and released a few album since then -- essentially proving the energy from their musical collaborations is far too powerful to ever be diminished. With their latest effort, 'V for Vaselines,' that energy is higher than ever.
Since releasing 'Sex With an X' in 2010 and working on their own musical endeavors, the Vaselines finally found themselves back in the studio to work on their latest record. Considering the long history these two have had together (and apart), they wanted to do something a little different. Inspired on separate occasions by the Ramones, they decided to bring more punk into 'V for Vaselines.' But after just one listen, it's clear that it's not necessarily the sound elements of punk that we get, but instead it's the energy, brevity and minimalist approach that's infused in the foundation of the LP.
The album kicks off in a big way with 'High Tide Low Tide,' which blends punk rhythms with pop vocals. You can feel the same pace with 'Earth Speeding' and 'Crazy Lady,' a song that was partially inspired by the death of Margaret Thatcher. No matter how these Glaswegians feel about the former U.K. prime minister, they admittedly tried to keep their lyrics a bit more general and hardly draw from their own experiences.
So songs like 'False Heaven' and 'Single Spies', the album's only ballad, delve into crumbling relationships that just need to end -- but they aren't necessarily based upon one particular relationship they were having during last year's songwriting process. Knowing that they weren't really drawing from anything personally specific, fans can easily associate their own experiences of heartache, breaking up and feeling wasted on someone to songs like 'Lost One Year.'
Romance and Thatcher aside, the band also tackled some other pressing issues that are somewhat U.K.-centric. 'Last Half Hour' was inspired by British comedian Tony Hancock while 'Inky Lies' looks into the News of the World phone-tapping controversy as well as celebrity scandals. Digging into these topics show how these two songwriters have grown in their craft.
The duo joined forces with producer and engineer Tony Doogan to record at Mogwai's studio in Glasgow and also invited Michael McGaughrin (1990s), Graeme Smillie (Olympic Swimmers), Scott Patterson (Sons and Daughters), Paul Foley (Mandrake Shepherd), Stevie Jackson (Belle & Sebastian) and Frank MacDonald (Teenage Fanclub) to contribute their instrumental talents to the record.
With every song being less than four minutes (aside from 'Single Spies,' which is a teeny bit longer), 'V for Vaselines' is a record that you can easily breeze through. But even though it carries a quicker pace, you shouldn't take any track for granted.